Let’s map invasive European Wasps

If you see any of these invasive wasps please record them on NatureMapr so we can see where they are a problem.

Native thynnid wasp
(flower wasp)

European wasp, photo Ali Rodway

Have you noticed the busy activity of wasps in the garden in late summer and autumn? Many of these are harmless and beneficial native wasps, like flower wasps. These perform an important role as pollinators and as biological pest control on the farm or in the garden. Some help control caterpillars which they feed to their larvae. Others lay their eggs in or on a range of host insects. The larvae hatch and eventually kill the host. There are wasps which parasitise leaf-eating scarab insects, pasture grubs and Christmas beetles and whitefly pests of tomatoes and cucumbers. So it’s worth loving your wasps.

Landholders and the Koori Work Crew here in the Bega Valley have recently reported seeing (and feeling the stings of) a less loveable wasp – the European wasp (Vespula germanica). This wasp is neither harmless nor beneficial. It poses a threat to local ecosystems, personal safety, recreational values and rural industries on the far south coast.

For more information read CMN April 2017 newsletter

Sea Slug Census

April 1st and 2nd from Greencape to Tathra and April 8th Bermagui and April 9th around Narooma and north.

We are inviting everyone to explore our coast for the jewels of the sea which are most often seen at this time of year.

See or webpage above for details and keep up to date with what’s happening on the Sapphire Coast Sea Slug Census Facebook page

Noumea laboutei? Blue pool, photo John Southern,

Noumea laboutei? Blue pool, photo John Southern,

Fabulous Fungi season is here…

Leather fungus

Leather fungus

Bolete

Bolete

Agaric....

Agaric….

Coral fungus

Coral fungus

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Bolete

Bolete    …sponge like layer of tubes under cap

Anemone Stinkhorn

Anemone Stinkhorn

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Ghost Fungus

Ghost Fungus

Agaric...gilled fungus

Agaric…gilled fungus

These are only a few of the many fungus that have emerged after the damp ,warm weather….  local forests ,Mandeni,Tura Headland and tracks near the golf course to Short point& Long Point .So far have just been recording the larger fungus & filling the memory card with many unidentified species .Please send in any sightings you have for our data base.

A rare Wraparound spider

Known as a’wrap around’ spider this cryptic little spider has the curious habit of wrapping around a small branch thus providing it with amazing camouflage. Indigenous to Australia, the spider belongs to the genus Dolophones and seventeen species are known (Wikipedia). We cannot identify the particular species of this spider but it was found on the verandah of Lyn and Alan Scrymgeour’s home at Myrtle Mountain near Wyndham NSW.

Wraparound spider Photo Lyn Scrymgeour

Wraparound spider Photo Lyn Scrymgeour

Tropical Visitors….and more

 

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Threadfin Butterfly                                             Sergeant Major                                                   Magpie Perch

Blue Damsel                      p1010287

Fan-belly Leatherjacketp1000110?? Leatherjacket & Madop1050510The water has warmed since the end of January &   amongst the many small fish visiting are a few juvenile tropicals ,Threadfin ,Dusky & Vagabond Butterfly,Sergeant Majors & Scissor Tail Sergeant,Mado ,Stripey,Blue Damsel & Pencilled Surgeonfish &,various Leatherjackets to name a few.Most of these shown are from the Bar Beach area …would welcome some good photos from anyone but I hope that by naming them you can perhaps add to the collection of sightings & photos.

Pencilled SurgeonfishPencilled Surgeonfish

Canberra Nature Map and successful citizen science

We invite you hear about a real success story of community engagement of fun, learning and scientific achievements – NatureMapr and Canberra Nature Map and now the Atlas of Life is linked too.

Dr Michael Mulvaney, ACT government senior conservation officer has many stories to tell about how and why the biodiversity recording tool – Canberra Nature Map was developed and how it is being used by community, scientists and government agencies.

The Canberra Nature Map hub is now being used daily, not just by the community, but also by government officials, environmental consultants and industry when making development, planning and land management decisions. It has already led to the identification of new species and doubled the number of known rare or threatened species locations. The site has become the authoritative sources of wildlife information across the ACT. The website receives in excess of 500,000 visits a year, with visitation rate almost doubling each year.
In time, contributing citizens progress from being novices to naturalists and finally experts assisting in the confirmation of new records and helping educate others. Existing experts range from a 16 year old school kid to retired internationally recognised taxonomic experts.
The engagement of community members in a shared task of survey and data collection has social and health benefits, providing an enjoyable means of connection both to other people and to the environment around them.
You are invited to join us at the Local Land Services offices in Bega, rooftop carpark Sapphire Market at 10:00am – 12:00 Wednesday March 8th. Places are limited so please RSVP libby@atlasoflife.org.au

Dr Michael Mulvaney, with a green comb spider orchid in Aranda Bushlands. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Dr Michael Mulvaney, with a green comb spider orchid in Aranda Bushlands. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Local photographer takes international prize

Sam Nerrie, long time local nature photographer has just won a 3rd place(Macro)  in the International Photography awards with this image of two Common Bluetail (ischnura heterosticta)

Damselflies. It’s a great image, taken in Bournda National Park, but she is a bit confused as she thought the female of the species should be brown. Any ideas anyone?

Sam is offering to run a Macro Photography course in the next school holidays, probably at Wallagoot Lake and Manna Park.

Sunday 23rd April 9:00am – 1:30pm. Best photos are in the morning and it is low tide at noon.

The cost will be $120 pp, Atlas members 10% discount. Includes morning tea. There will be a limit of 10 people so please let us know if you are interested. info@atlasoflife.org.au

These two damselfies were seen at Bournda National Park, NSW, Australia. It had been a bumper damselfly and dragonfly season and they were easily seen near waterways.

These two damselfies were seen at Bournda National Park, NSW, Australia. It had been a bumper damselfly and dragonfly season and they were easily seen near waterways.

Great chance to learn from an expert, and it will help improve your sightings records on the Atlas too!

This close-up adn macro photography course will examine how to bring out the best in your little creature or flower. Take stunning photos of the micro world of creatures with great tuition from internationally awarded phtographer, Sam Nerrie. Courses running on the Sapphire Coast and Canberra.

This close-up adn macro photography course will examine how to bring out the best in your little creature or flower. Take stunning photos of the micro world of creatures with great tuition from internationally awarded phtographer, Sam Nerrie.
Courses running on the Sapphire Coast and Canberra.

Sea Slug Census coming to our coast

We have been invited by Prof. Steve Smith, Director of the National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour to co-ordinate a hub for a Sea Slug Census along our coast. Here’s what he said on ABC News today:

Scientists watching southerly migration of tropical sea slugs to chart climate change
ABC Coffs Coast By Helen Merkell
Posted about an hour ago

PHOTO: Hypselodoris bennetti sea slugs photographed off Muttonbird Island at Coffs Harbour, NSW in 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

PHOTO: Hypselodoris bennetti sea slugs photographed off Muttonbird Island at Coffs Harbour, NSW in 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

Blue and yellow Hypselodoris bennetti sea slugs mating, near Muttonbird Island, Coffs Harbour.

The National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour is looking at whether the southerly migration of tropical sea slugs is an indicator of climate change.

According to researchers, south-east Australia is a recognised global climate hotspot and southward shifts in distribution have already been documented for several species.

Evidence suggests more tropical species heading south

Centre director Professor Steve Smith said colourful sea slugs were now being found up to 1,300 kilometres south of their known range.

“We’re very confident about that because these are such colourful organisms that they’re always seen by divers if they’re around,” he said.
“We know there’s been a documented increase in global seawater temperatures [and] we’re seeing changes in oceanographic conditions in different parts of the world.

“We know there are predictions for major changes in this part of the world.

“Certainly the evidence at the moment is suggesting that we are getting more tropical species moving further south.”

PHOTO: Miamira magnifica sea slug at Woolgoolga Reef, north of Coffs Harbour NSW, 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

PHOTO: Miamira magnifica sea slug at Woolgoolga Reef, north of Coffs Harbour NSW, 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

Multi-coloured Miamira magnifica sea slug on the reef off Woolgoolga, north of Coffs Harbour NSW.

Professor Smith said researchers are concerned about whether or not the species in the receiving waters were able to cope with these “invaders”.

“At the moment we don’t really know what the ecological consequences are,” he said.

“We do know high water temperatures can encourage rapid spread of introduced species [and] we’ve got a classic example with sea slugs.

“In three years, they have spread from central Queensland all the way around to Adelaide.”

Professor Smith said migration of sea slugs was not necessarily the ‘canary in the coal mine’ but was an indicator of warming ocean temperatures.

“Sea slugs are one of the most popular marine invertebrates among divers and rock pool ramblers,” he said.

“Because they have this capacity to be very useful indicators of environmental condition, we’re currently putting together a program which works with volunteers to document the distribution of these species.

“So, we can use them as a monitoring tool for climate change and any other environmental change.”

Sea Slug Census harnessing citizen scientists

The Sea Slug Census, which started in Port Stephens, is now running in three centres after Sydney and the Gold Coast joined up.

“We plan to include the South Coast of NSW sometime in March,” Professor Smith said.

“Then we want to extend it across the country to include WA, SA and Victoria with the long-term goal to have an international program.

“It’s incredibly popular with underwater photographers and we use all of that information to document the distribution of the species — there’s a huge variety of them.
“The largest [sea slugs] can be up to 50 centimetres, possibly even bigger. The big Spanish Dancer we get off Coffs Harbour.

“The smallest are so small it’s frustrating. You know they’re there but you can’t see them, so just a few millimetres in size.

“Some are highly cryptic, coloured the same as the habitat they live in [and] then you’ve got the flamboyant ones that are so popular.”

PHOTO: Goniobranchus splendidus, photographed by Professor Steve Smith off Nelson Bay NSW in 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

PHOTO: Goniobranchus splendidus, photographed by Professor Steve Smith off Nelson Bay NSW in 2016. (Supplied: Professor Steve Smith)

A white with red spots sea slug Goniobranchus splendidus taken at Nelson Bay, NSW.

Early record of a Peacock spider

Peacock spider behaviour report N.Morrison 1981

Peacock spider behaviour report N.Morrison 1981

We have all got excited about Peacock spiders, having been introduced to them by Stuart Harris who has led surveys on our last two BioBlitzes (a new variety was discovered at last year’s BioBlitz at the Four Winds site)and shared his experiences at our Christmas Celebration.

However, it appears that some people have known about these beautiful beasties much earlier. Norm Morrison shared a report he wrote about thier behaviour, and I have just had the slide he made translated to digital, so we can share it with you.

Here is Norm’s paper and the image he took then

A Peacock spider - photo Norm Morrison 1981

A Peacock spider – photo Norm Morrison 1981